How to change an estate plan during a divorce

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Wisconsin residents who are going through a divorce may also want to think about how a separation could impact their estate plans. For example, one may have a health care proxy that appoints a spouse to make medical decisions in case of incapacity. This could be a bad idea after a divorce, especially when animosity exists between ex-spouses.

A power of attorney gives someone control over an estate owner’s assets in case of incapacitation. Unless the divorce is a very amicable one, an ex-spouse might want to make changes to this as well. However, one may have to wait until after the divorce is finalized to change some documents, such as beneficiary designations. On the other hand, it’s important to change a will as soon as possible. While it might not be possible to entirely disinherit a spouse, the estate owner could change the will so that the ex only receives the minimum based on state law.

If there is a prenuptial agreement, this needs to be reviewed as well. Some agreements say what the spouse gets in case of the death of the other spouse. The revised estate plan must be consistent with this agreement. An estate owner may also want to consider whether a revocable trust needs to be amended. Finally, the estate plan might need to be reviewed and revised again after the divorce is final.

Divorce is only one of the types of life events that may necessitate a change in the estate plan. Others include births, deaths and marriages. It is important in blended families that children from previous relationships are taken care of in the estate plan. Those who need help creating or altering an estate plan could reach out to an experienced attorney.